10 May 2022
10 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Climate Response to Severe Forestation: A Regional Climate Model Intercomparison Study

Olivier Asselin1, Martin Leduc1, Dominique Paquin1, Katja Winger2, Alejandro Di Luca2, Melissa Bukovsky3, Biljana Music1, and Michel Giguère1 Olivier Asselin et al.
  • 1Ouranos, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • 2Centre ESCER, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • 3National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

Abstract. The biogeophysical effects of severe forestation are quantified using a new ensemble of regional climate simulations over North America and Europe. Following the protocol outlined for the Land-Use and Climate Across Scales (LUCAS) intercomparison project, two sets of simulations are compared, FOREST and GRASS, which respectively represent worlds where all vegetation is replaced by trees and grasses. Three regional regional models were run over North America. One of them, the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM5), was also run over Europe in an attempt to bridge results with the original LUCAS ensemble, which was confined to Europe. Overall, the CRCM5 response to forestation reveals strong inter-continental similarities, including a pronounced wintertime and springtime warming concentrated over snow-masking evergreen forests. Crucially, these northern evergreen needleleaf forests populate lower, hence sunnier latitudes in North America. Snow masking reduces albedo similarly over both continents, but stronger insolation amplifies the net shortwave radiation and hence warming simulated over North America. In the summertime, CRCM5 produces a mixed forestation response, with warming over northern needleleaf forests and cooling over southern broadleaf forests. The partitioning of the turbulent heat fluxes plays a major role in determining this response, but it is not robust across models over North America. Implications for the inter-continental transferability of the original LUCAS results are discussed.

Olivier Asselin et al.

Status: open (until 21 Jun 2022)

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Olivier Asselin et al.

Olivier Asselin et al.


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Short summary
Planting trees cools the climate by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, but may also cool or warm the climate by altering the albedo, roughness and evapotranspiration efficiency of the surface. To quantify these biogeophysical effects, we ran regional climate models over two idealized worlds, FOREST and GRASS, respectively representing maximum and minimum tree cover over North America and Europe. We find that these effects must be taken into account to successfully mitigate climate change.